Born in 1922 in Berkeley, California of Swedish parents, he attended Fresno State College where he earned a BA degree in English Literature. After serving as lieutenant with the United States Navy in the Pacific, he entered the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where he studied painting with Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. He came to New York City in 1949 to study at the Art Students League with Will Barnet and Morris Kantor.
In 1954 he relocated to Paris where he was to join other expatriate artists. He exhibited in Europe and there met the art dealer Martha Jackson, who invited him to become part of her newly established international gallery in New York where he exhibited for over 20 years.
In 1955, Hultberg’s career was officially launched with the award of First Prize for Oil Painting at the Corcoran Gallery Biennial in Washington D.C. Frequently reviewed in such publications as The New York Times, The Herald Tribune and Art News, Hultberg’s work is represented in over 150 museums and public collections throughout the United States and abroad. These include The Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; The Oakland Museum, The de Young Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in California; The Corcoran Gallery, The Hirschhorn and The National Museum of American Art in Washington D.C.; The Tate Gallery and Institute of Contemporary Art in London; The Museum of Modern Art in Malmo, Sweden; and The Salon de Mai in Paris.
Among other honors and awards, he has been the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Ford Foundation Fellowships, and the National Endowment for the Arts grants, three Pollack-Krasner Foundation grants and a Lee Krasner grant.
John Hultberg’s personal papers, photographs, correspondence, writings, interviews, critical reviews, essays, monographs and poetry are on microfilm at the Archives of American Art in New York, Boston, and San Francisco, the Pompidou Archives in Paris, and at the QCC Gallery and Achieves/CUNY, New York.
Hultberg died on April 15 2015 at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. He was 83 and lived on the Upper West Side. The cause was complications of a stroke, according to Christopher Wieliczko, an associate.